Sustainable growth with an eye on the international market
Manumetal is a furniture manufacturer in Kigali (Rwanda). Established more than fifty years ago, Manumetal started as a Belgian company, but is now privately owned by Rwandans. As the name intimates, the focus for Manumetal initially lay on metal furniture. Over the years, they delved into wooden furniture production. Recently, even aluminium furniture has found its place.
Manumetal is ambitious and is surfing along on the wave of growth currently being enjoyed by the Rwandan market. The company wants to optimise its potential for innovation and the opportunities offered by diverse and high-quality local expertise. In doing so, Manumetal will respond to the needs of the growing Rwandan middle class.
Ambition and challenge, hand in hand
Exchange and Manumetal have worked together in recent years. In 2018, we decided to transform this collaboration into a growth programme. First and foremost, the growth programme aimed to improve the efficiency of the production of metal and wooden furniture. New, modern designs, and the production of high-quality chairs are among the ambitions of the growth programme. Better quality and design will create infinitely more potential for the domestic and foreign markets.
When we speak about the foreign market, we do not just look at Congo and Uganda as export countries. An introductory meeting was also held with a delegate from IKEA.
Ambitions of this sort bring necessary challenges with them. In the first place, there are the logistic challenges related to machines, infrastructure and distribution. In addition, there are challenges in terms of marketing and product quality.
A well-thought-out growth plan
In August 2018, the programme coach from Exchange worked together with the local manager Mr Bayigamba on the pillars for the Manumetal growth programme. The growth plan consists of three pillars that need to form the basis for the sustainable growth of the company:
MOVE, DIVERSIFY, GROW
- MOVE: Just like many other companies in Kigali, Manumetal was required to relocate to the industry zone outside the city on short notice. Exchange will provide an architect and technical expert to efficiently prepare and guide the move. With the right approach, the move could be turned into an opportunity for Manumetal. Could the mechanical installations be improved? Could the production spaces be more efficiently set up? How could the production process be organised to make it more in line with lean principles? The goal is to have the relocation completed by the end of 2020.
- DIVERSIFY: Manumetal wants to diversify ins markets, ins products (including design products) and its customer segments (including high-end customers). Meanwhile, the Exchange coach ensured that Manumetal could already enter into various partnerships. Through these partnerships, Manumetal can appeal to a larger market segment. An Exchange marketing expert guides Manumetal to put their new products on the market. Another Exchange expert ensured that the marketing manager of Manumetal could do an internship here in Flanders with various Flemish furniture manufacturers in order to gain new ideas. An expert carpenter will train the staff in perfect finishing of the products, so that they can also appeal to other customers and other markets. Finally, an investment expert and financial expert will look at how Manumetal can attract investors, save and make smart investments in view of the relocation.
- GROW: Manumetal wants to grow and therefore focuses on export. Growth means more complex processes. That's why an IT expert will help the company to set up a well-integrated digitization of processes. An export expert will guide them in the export process of products. Manumetal is also a progressive company in the field of HR. The company not only scores well on gender equality, but focuses on the dual-learning system that aims to address the shortage of highly skilled technicians. How? By letting students do apprenticeships in companies. And this they do successfully! Manumetal plays a pioneering role and attracts a very high number of trainees in the workplace. The company is also subsidized for this by the Work Development Agency in Rwanda.
Throughout the growth programme, Manumetal will always look for new partnerships. Since the start of the growth programme, we can proudly say that a large number of partnerships have already been started, all of which contribute to the growth of this Rwandan company. The social impact of Manumetal also increases thanks to these partners.
In order to continue the pioneering role in the field of training young people, an internship agreement was concluded with a technical Rwandan school. Students can not only gain practical experience within the company, but are also invited to work out and produce new products together. In this way Manumetal not only focuses on the sustainable growth of the company, but also on the professional growth of ambitious Rwandan youngsters!
Manumetal also started a partnership with Mass Design, an American-Rwandan architect collective that strongly focuses on architecture that promotes justice and human dignity. In addition to designing buildings, Mass Design is also very strong in interior design. Manumetal will take care of the production of this interior and will also offer a number of furniture in the Manumetal catalog. Moreover, the designers of Mass Design and Manumetal will work together on the development of the "affordable housing program" of the Rwandan government. With this program, the government wants to offer low-income and middle-income Rwandans affordable and decent housing in Kigali.
Remote Group is a construction company that, among other things, carries out the construction work of the affordable housing program in Rwanda. Manumetal has previously worked as a subcontractor for Remote Group. Remote Group and Manumetal are now strengthening their partnership whereby Manumetal will become a permanent subcontractor to Remote Group. As Remote Group manages many sites in Rwanda, the number of orders for Manumetal will also increase.
Sokoa is a French company that is one of the leading producers of office chairs in Europe. The company is based in the Basque area of France, an economically disadvantaged region. The mission of the company is to ensure economic development and job creation in this region. Sokoa has also been looking beyond Europe for several years. The company wants to enter the Rwandan market and Manumetal proved to be the ideal partner for this. Therefore, in the new factory hall of Manumetal, a workplace will be provided where Manumetal will assemble chairs for Sokoa and, in time, also produce chairs itself. We look forward to this promising partnership!